B. Thomas Mazahery, MD
With help from OrthoVirginia, I was able to complete my first AT through hike in 2005, after which I had full knee replacements. I attempted a second through hike in 2010, but my highly arthritic back forced me off the trail. I discussed my options with Dr. Mazahery, who was highly supportive of getting me back on the trail but also cautious about moving ahead with the major back surgery that would be needed to deal with the underlying problems (including scoliosis). He explained carefully the risks involved, and cautioned that there were no guarantees as to the outcome. Since the updated MRI revealed that the structure was reasonably stable, he recommended a period of pain management combined with periodic checkups.
Over the next two years, I completed several additional sections of the AT, but this year's hike was ended in May when even the pain management regimen was not able to keep me hiking. The good news was that my 250 miles of backpacking through Tennessee and southern Virginia in April and May was great preparation for the roughly 17 hours of surgery, which occurred June 19 and 21.
Having seen the before and after x-Rays, I am in complete awe of what Dr. Mazahery and his team were able to achieve. My lumbar spine now curves where it's supposed to curve, and doesn't curve where its not supposed to! While I still have some residual pain from the surgery itself (not surprising, as it's only been 19 days since the operation), I am already up and around and rapidly moving toward resuming my full normal routines. This morning, for example, I completed my first one mile lap around the neighborhood, accompanied by my daughter, and am feeling incredibly good after achieving that milestone.
I can't thank Dr. Mazahery and his team enough for their incredible talent, experience and dedication to helping me get back to my life. By this time next summer, I will be back on the AT and, with a bit of luck, will make it a second time to Mount Katahdin in Maine.